PORTLAND, Ore. -- Melvin "Pete" Mark Jr., one of the storied names in Portland real estate, has died at the age of 91.
Mark formed Melvin Mark Cos., a prominent Portland commercial real estate firm that provides investment, development, management, construction and leasing services. He was also one of the city's most-prominent philanthropists, with his family's name attached to the Portland Art Museum's main building.
Mark turned management of his company over to his son, Jim Mark, in 2000.
And despite building one of the city's most-respected businesses, that aspect of Pete Mark's life never overtook his one true passion.
"He always put family first," said Jim Mark. "He was my dad, my mentor, I worked with him, but family always came first. He always drove that point home."
Originally from Philadelphia, Mark first came to Portland in 1948 at the behest of his father, Melvin Mark, Sr., who wanted his son to size up the Loyalty Building, which the senior Mark had purchased on a trip to the city three years earlier.
After marrying Mary Kridel in 1951, Pete Mark returned to Portland and put down his family's roots. That included purchasing three Portland buildings, including the Cascade Building, Yeon and Builder's Exchange, a move that laid the groundwork for the Melvin Mark Cos.
The enterprise eventually built the Robert Duncan Plaza and the Port of Portland building, among other endeavors. Pete Mark was also the founding president of Pioneer Courthouse Square, known as "Portland's Living Room."
Mark was considered "the linchpin between the old and new generations of a company that grew from a few historic downtown Portland buildings, acquired just after World War II, to more than 1.8 million square feet of real estate holdings, primarily in downtown Portland and the Sunset Corridor," the PBJ wrote in 2004.
Mark, that year, was named one of the 20 most influential executives of the past 20 years.
He chose to deflect his success to, yes, his family.
"You don't achieve success by yourself," he said. "You can't just work for the money and ignore the people you love. Build your life around your family and everything else will work."
Jon Bell contributed to this story.
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